It has been three months since COVID-19 took grip of our country and our visitor economy. As we prepare for Phase 3 of the Province’s Restart Plan, we are closer to welcoming visitors back, starting with those from within the province. Now, attention is quickly turning to how our tourism community will reassure visitors that their health, travel budgets, and visitor experience expectations will all be safe and well looked after when they choose Kelowna and the Okanagan.
Our ability to market our destination depends on several factors. Our response will be led primarily by our provincial public health leaders, but also with guidance from local tourism businesses and residents.
There is certainly much in the news these days regarding the importance of local residents supporting tourism marketing. This week, Tourism Kelowna invited Kelowna residents to share their thoughts on welcoming visitors back to our destination. We don’t expect the response to be unanimous; however, we hope to collect signals or trends that will be considered in our campaign timing. Our 2019 survey showed locals already had a strong understanding of the value of tourism on their quality of life; our challenge now is to maintain that level of support even through the most challenging circumstances. Research on resident sentiment is also happening at the national and provincial levels. You can read more about Destination Canada’s most recent research report here.
With new public health measures in place, it may take additional time, effort, and resources for businesses to get up and running fully. We will need to communicate that our tourism sector is equipped and prepared to deliver on new expectations. Together, we must show visitors we care about their health, safety, and comfort at every connection point for a seamless experience. This can be done by posting your COVID-19 plans in your business and on your website, and by giving additional information to guests to help them prepare for their visit.
We’re encouraged to hear that many local businesses have taken the necessary considerations to re-open. We also know many local businesses, in true Kelowna spirit, have gone over and above to ensure the comfort and safety of their customers. As you prepare to welcome back visitors, please consider these best practice resources and the public health requirements. Also, so we can help refer customers to your business and prepare them for their visit, please update your listing on our website or connect with a member of our Visitor Experience team to share important updates. On Monday of this week, we re-opened the Kelowna Visitor Centre for walk-up traffic; it has been so nice to reconnect with people and help them get out to #exploreKelownalocal.
Tourism Kelowna’s re-focused marketing plan is in place and ready to launch as soon as it is deemed safe to welcome visitors. We’re watching every day for clearance to activate our new marketing tactics and messaging. More than that, it’s going to take our collective efforts as a visitor economy to reinstate both desire and confidence in travel again. It is heartening to see tourism-related sectors like hotel associations and the airports creating cross-industry task force groups to leverage support from a wide variety of stakeholders.
To restore confidence in the travel and tourism industry, and build desire for future travel, we must deliver a strong and safe destination and visitor experience together—even during the recovery from a global pandemic.
Stay safe. Be well.
President & CEO
If you have questions or updates about your businesses, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of important resources is available on Tourism Kelowna’s COVID-19 web page and you can sign up for our Industry News Centre bulletins.